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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

80                                                     TEE   BAN-JJ&EA.
being acted on the very spot with which the original event is traditionally con-
nected. The marriage scene, as performed at Sanket, is the only one that
I have had the fortune to witness : with a garden-terrace for a stage, a grey stone
temple for back-ground, the bright moon over head, and an occasional flambeau
that shot a flickering gleam over the central tableau framed in its deep border
of intent and sympatllizing faces, the spectacle was a pretty one and was marked
by a total absence of anything even verging upon indecorum. The cost of
the whole perambulation with the performances at the diiFerent stations on the
route is provided by some one wealthy individual, often a trader from Bombay
or other distant part of India ; and as he is always accompanied by a large
gathering of friends and retainers, numbering at least 200 or 300 persons, the
outlay is seldom less than Es. 5,000 or Bs. 6,000. The local Gosain, whom he
acknowledges as his spiritual director, organizes all the arrangements through
one of the Basdharis, who collects the troupe (or mandali as it is -called) of
singers and musicians, and himself takes the chief part in the performance,
declaiming in set recitative with the mandali for chorus, while the children who
personate BadM and Krishna act only in dumb show.
The number of sacred places, woods, groves, ponds, wells, hills, and
temples—all to be visited in fixed order—is very considerable ; there are
generally reckoned five hills,  eleven rocks,  four lakes, eighty-four ponds,
and twelve wells; but the twelve bans or woods, and the twenty-four upabans
or groves, are the characteristic feature "of the pilgrimage, which is thence
called the Ban-Jatra.   The numbers 12 and 24 have been arbitrarily selected
on account of their mystic significance;   and few of the local pandits if
required to enumerate either group .offhand, would be able to complete the
total without some recourse to guesswork.    A little Hindi manual for the
guidance of pilgrims lias been published at Mathura and is the popular
authority OB $*e subject   The compiler, however great his local knowledge and
priestly reputation, has certainly no pretensions to accuracy of scholarship.
ffis attempts at etymology are, as a rale, absolutely grotesque, as in the
two sufficiently obvious names of Khaira (for Khadira) and Sher-ffarh (from
iihe Emperor Sher Shah), the one of which he derives from kliedna   < to
drive cattle/ and tte other, still more preposterously, from sihara, {a marriage
crown:   The iisfc which he gives is as Mows, Ms faulty orthography in gome
of the words being corrected:—
The 12 Bans: Madhu-ban, Tal-ban, Kumud-ban, Bahula-ban, Kam-ban
Brines-ban, Bhadra-ban, BMndir-ban, Bel-ban, Loha-ban and